Jul 26 2005

Occam’s Paradox

Remember Occam’s Razor? It’s the principle (that you probably learned in high school physics) that states that the simplest solution to a given problem is probably the best.  I’ve been thinking recently about complexity in business and in life and think there’s a corollary to Occam’sRazor that perhaps should be called Occam’s Paradox – the propensity of humans to make things more complicated than they need to be.  I don’t pretend to know why this is, but I notice it all the time (both in my own life and with other people).  I guess it’s just easy to start down the road of dependency mapping (i.e., making everything you do a part of a larger matrix that has many interdependencies).    I watch this tendency in the companies I work with as well. Lots of dependency mapping; lots of “if’s”, “but’s” and “its not that simple”.  Now – I get that life and business are complicated.  But I’m talking about how we react to that complexity.  We have the choice to either drown in complexity or to cut through it, because although the challenges we face in life and business are clearly complex – the solution to those challenges generally are not (generally the difference is in recognizing what you control and what you don’t control and not wasting a whole lot of time on the latter – perhaps a subject for a future post).

Keep that in mind the next time you are sitting around the board table or at a management meeting (or at dinner with your family) and see if you relate to it (let me know).